Texas arrests man for allegedly illegal voting in anti-fraud push: NPR


Hervis Rogers points to his “I voted” Super Tuesday poster in 2020. He was arrested this week for allegedly voting while on parole, which is illegal in Texas.

Jane Rice / Houston Public Media

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Jane Rice / Houston Public Media

Hervis Rogers points to his “I voted” Super Tuesday poster in 2020. He was arrested this week for allegedly voting while on parole, which is illegal in Texas.

Jane Rice / Houston Public Media

When Hervis Rogers Spread on social media For being the last person in line at Texas Southern University to vote at 1 a.m. on Super Tuesday In March 2020, he was lauded as a stubborn, civic-minded man who worked hard to exercise his right to vote.

Now, Rogers is being sued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office for allegedly voting illegally.

The arrest came just a day before the Texas legislature meets on Thursday to begin a special session, where a Controversial Voting Bill he is on the agenda. Republicans in favor of the new voting restrictions point to cases like Rogers as evidence of an unsafe system. However, There was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

The charges brought against Rogers

In 1995, Rogers was arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison for burglary and intent to commit burglary. He was out on parole on May 20, 2004, and his parole was due to expire on June 13, 2020.

Rogers was one of millions of people in America who do not have the right to vote, due to laws in a number of states, including Texas, that prohibit previously convicted criminals from participating in elections while they are still on parole.

Rogers was arrested Wednesday in the South Acres neighborhood of Houston, and voted in Harris County, but the AG office is trying the case in Montgomery County. Rogers is charged with two counts of illegal voting. His bail was set at $100,000.

Rogers represents the American Civil Liberties Union in Texas and Nicole Depury Hushglub.

“Mr. Rogers is being held in prison on too much bail that he can’t afford for what amounts to simply trying to perform his civic duty. This is not justice,” said Andre Segura, legal director of the Texas Civil Liberties Union.

Because Rogers voted before his parole expired, he is likely ineligible to vote on Election Day, despite being registered to vote, a spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said last year.

Push to prosecute voter fraud

This is not the first time such a situation has occurred in Texas. In 2016, Crystal Mason, a mother of three in Tarrant County, cast her vote during a release under federal supervision. She asserts that she was not aware of the rules. And when I got to the polling place, I told the Civil Liberties Union that her name was not on the list of registered voters, but that she was offered a provisional ballot, which she filled out.

Six months later, she was arrested.

Paxton has made the prosecution of voter fraud cases a primary task of his office. Data from the Public Prosecutor’s Office reveals that more than 130 people were prosecuted between 2005 and 2018.

But critics say the law is aimed in part at people like Rogers and Mason, who have already served time in prison and who may not be aware of the rules that prevent them from participating in the election.

These critics also say that these laws disproportionately affect people of color. There were approximately 160,000 people in Texas prisons in 2016. According to research from the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform group. More than 490,000 Texans were on probation or parole in 2017, the organization said, and Black Texans were four times more likely to be imprisoned than white Texans.

Knowing your rights

Under a bill approved in 2007 by both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was required to notify people released from custody of their eligibility to vote. However, Former Governor Rick Perry vetoed this bill.

a Similar invoice This week, Attorney General John Bosey filed a state request to give people convicted of crimes more information about their eligibility to vote.

Nicole DePorter, advocacy director for the Sentencing Project, said the Hervis Rogers case illustrates the state’s need to give people proper notice of their rights.

“This particular case appears to be an example of Texas officials using their power to hide black residents under the pretext of winning political points with their friends in their political party in Texas and nationwide,” Porter said. “What Paxton, Abbott and others seem to forget is that this is the person they are trying to hide.”

A Paxton spokesman said his office does not comment on the ongoing investigation.

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